I've always looked at genre with a glare. In all honesty, I've never given it much attention, because my ultimate goal is to be a writer that simply tells a good story. Think of the imaginary blessed spawn of Neil Gaiman and Toni Morrison. That's who'd I want to be. Unfortunately, I'm discovering, whilst a newbie to the 'business' of writing, it's a bit difficult to wrangle that covetous form.
Many literary agents are focused on certain genres. It's understandable. Why promote a genre you don't necessarily care for? I get it. But the idea of genre was so much on my mind, such a constant when I wrote that I began to find myself focusing on it. I'd change a character's voice, edit out things they might say, behaviors they might have in order to conform into the genre niche. It's a terrible practice, one that I've had to monitor. So, in thinking of this, I, being a good little English nerd, took to the research. What constitutes genre? Who is my audience if I'm writing YA? MG? Fantasy?
What I discovered is this: right now, it really doesn't matter.
So what if my protagonist is still a teenager? Her age doesn't necessarily define who I'm writing for. More to the point, at the stage I'm in (11k words), genre is the last thing I should be focusing on. Like with many things I tend to let filter into my mind, focusing on genre and not the development of characters or the course of the plot only deters me from my goal of telling a good story.
The bottom line is this: if I want to be that Gaiman Morrison hybrid, I have to forget about all things except telling the best story, written in the clearest, most endearing voice imaginable. Mix those things up with a great plot, a strong narrative and I may just end up with the story I want to tell. Oh, and the fairies. We mustn't forget those fairies.
So, question to you, anonymous reader, where does genre fit in with your writing process? What literary marvel hybrid are you hoping to be?